Solidarity 540, 25 March 2020

Full paid leave for all in the NHS

Published on: Thu, 26/03/2020 - 16:05

East London Health Workers

Essential workers at East London NHS Foundation Trust have organised and taken action to reduce the risk of infection and to keep each other and the patients safe.

“We are the workers that will keep going through this pandemic. Together we can take action for safer workplaces”, they say.

On 16 March mental health nurses, doctors, social workers, admin and cleaners in East London, emailed the chief executive seeking assurances that all workers operating in ELFT premises would be entitled to full paid leave, where necessary, to comply with the government’s public health advice.

By Thursday 19

Emergency powers: who checks?

Published on: Wed, 25/03/2020 - 08:46

Yes, any government would need emergency powers in an epidemic like this, to shut down activities which endanger not just those taking part, but others near them, and endanger the NHS too.

That does not mean that we should trust the Tories.

The government agreed under pressure to have the emergency powers reconsidered after six months, not to run for two years as they first proposed.

In this fast-moving emergency, that should be monthly.

Parliament should go online rather than either shutting or being depleted due to self-isolation. Make the government accountable!

The legislation gives

Fight the epidemic - yes. Back the Tories - no

Published on: Wed, 25/03/2020 - 08:38

Mohan Sen

The Labour Party has made some important demands for the Covid-19 crisis, including improving the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme which underwrites part of wages and extending it to the self-employed; insisting employers guarantee to keep people in work; and increasing a range of benefits.

The problem is that the party shows no sign of campaigning around these demands. Its leadership acts as if that the epidemic obliges it to express positive support for the Tory government.

Big demonstrations and crowded public meetings are obviously out at the moment. But Labour wasn’t going in for those

Lessons from past pandemics

Published on: Wed, 25/03/2020 - 08:12

Martin Thomas

The nearest historical precedent to the Covid-19 pandemic is the “Spanish flu” which swept the world between March 1918 and March 1920, in three successive and distinct waves.

On the best estimates, made decades later because no one counted well at the time, that strain of flu infected about one-third of the world’s whole population and killed between 50 and 100 million, possibly more than World War 1 and World War 2 combined.

The deaths peaked sharply in the second wave, between mid-September and mid-December 1918. Most strains of flu disproportionately kill the elderly and the very young.

Pause Brexit now!

Published on: Wed, 25/03/2020 - 08:04

From Labour for a Socialist Europe

Whatever our differing views on Brexit, the whole Labour Party and labour movement should call and campaign for the Brexit transition period due to end on 31 December to be extended significantly – at least an extra year, maybe the full two years permitted under existing rules.

Even before the Covid-19 crisis, the possibility of the UK striking a deal with the EU in time looked tenuous. The Tory government has been threatening to walk away and prepare for a No Deal Brexit if the essentials of a deal are not in place by June!

Now the next round of UK-EU talks

Requisition pharma!

Published on: Wed, 25/03/2020 - 07:55

Rhodri Evans

Personal protective equipment (PPE) for health workers, ventilators, Covid-19 test kits, and even hand sanitiser and paracetamol are in short supply in hospitals. Why?

Arguing that the then-common socialist demand that workers receive the “full fruits of their labour” was nonsense, Karl Marx explained that from the total social product must be deducted:

“First, cover for replacement of the means of production used up. Secondly, additional portion for expansion… Thirdly, reserve or insurance funds to provide against… calamities, etc”.

And further “the part which is intended for the common

Help for domestic violence victims is a key service

Published on: Wed, 25/03/2020 - 07:50

Katy Dollar

The often-quoted figure is two women a week killed by a current or former partner in England and Wales.

As we enter a new decade in 2020, the number of women being murdered per week in the UK by an abusive partner or ex-partner has risen to three. A further three women a week commit suicide to escape abuse.

Millions of women experience domestic violence every year. We can’t ignore these figures when the government has introduced measures to force people to stay at home.

There were increased reports of domestic violence in Wuhan following “lockdown” to prevent the spread of Covid-19. The US

Political education in the time of Covid-19

Published on: Wed, 25/03/2020 - 07:42

Misha Zubrowski

Today, we are in a health crisis, and, increasingly, an economic crisis. But it is not simply a “natural crisis”, an “act of god”. This pandemic and the crises it cause have partly political roots, and require political solutions.

This crisis heightens, rather than decreases, the need for serious political education, agitation, and organisation. Political education is necessary to arm and guide ourselves in the struggle against our bosses, our government, and capitalism; and for a fairer, democratic, socialist society. We needed this before, we need it now, during the Covid-19 crisis. We will

Diary of an engineer: Night shift

Published on: Wed, 25/03/2020 - 07:34

Emma Rickman

I was rostered onto District Energy (DE) last week (ending 20 March). There are lots of repair jobs; because of the major leak near the swimming pool last month, sections of the network have been isolated several times.

As pipes cool and warm back up the metal expands and contracts slightly, leading to leaks at other weak-points. As well as these there is street-resurfacing to complete, and a big hole in the ground to fill.

D, my mentor, is a chatty ex-miner with dodgy knees. His role is to issue work permits to the civil engineering contractors, supervise jobs, isolate the network where

Suspend all job cuts!

Published on: Wed, 25/03/2020 - 07:30

John Moloney

The labour movement needs to assert itself in the current crisis. Whilst being sensitive to what is happening around us, we cannot suspend our struggles and demands. The movement needs to raise big political demands, such as the demand for a complete moratorium on lay-offs and redundancies.

We’re raising that demand with the civil service. We know that the Department for Work and Pensions is about to announce yet more office closures and resultant redundancies. We have made it clear to them that if they don’t back down from that then we’ll be in dispute. Exactly what form that will take in the

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